The Yankees had an injury crisis throughout all of last year. It seems nothing has changed heading into the 2020 season. First, it was James Paxton, who needed back surgery and will be out until the middle of June. Now, the news has come that Luis Severino will need Tommy John surgery and will miss the entire 2020 season.
This is a blow for the Yankees, but one they will overcome. The biggest blow is for Severino and the fact that this will be another year of his prime lost. He was one of the best starters in the AL over the 2017-18 seasons. He posted a 3.18 ERA over a combined 63 starts during that time. Injuries kept him out for most of 2019 and he ended up only making 5 starts including the postseason.
It was during the last postseason start that concerns about Severinos arm started up with him having forearm discomfort. Tests showed no explanation for the discomfort outside of some loose bodies (bone or cartilage floating around). Once spring training started up, the discomfort showed up again. The new tests revealed a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament, meaning Tommy John was the only option. Missing this season sets up a return from surgery at age 27 for Severino. Luckily for him, he signed a 4 year extension before the 2019 season that pays him a total of $31 million over the next three seasons. The only downside is that when Severino does have the ability to test the free agency waters, his injury history will play a major factor.
How Does Severino's Injury Hurt the Yankees?
It seems like the Yankees would be entering crisis mode going into the season without their No.2 or No.3 starter, but they aren't. The reason being Gerrit Cole, who could carry a rotation by himself, but also Masahiro Tanaka and J.A. Happ are there to help. Most teams would take those three as their 1-3 starters.
The Yankees obviously have no choice but to do that now. What makes it more incredible is that this news doesn't even change the Yankees chances at a World Series title. They enter the year with a top rotation, an elite bullpen, and a lineup full of thumpers. This team is still the one to beat in the AL East and one of the two main contenders in the American League.
This team dealt with injuries up and down the roster last year and still finished with 103 wins. There is no doubt in my mind that despite the injuries this team will win 103 or more games this season. They are just that good, and that's coming from a Red Sox fan.
Having Severino this season would have made things a lot easier, obviously. Replacing him essentially with Gerrit Cole, a Cy Young contender, eases the pain.
Of course, even without Severino, I believe the Yankees will be the team everyone else in the AL will be chasing.